Energy and Commerce Leaders Respond to President's Proposal for Commerce and Trade Agency Consolidation

January 13, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC - Leaders of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee today welcomed the idea of consolidating duplicative and complex federal agencies, pointing to reports from the U.S. Government Accountability Office and information gathered in committee hearings as evidence that shrinking government bureaucracy is long overdue. President Obama today proposed merging six commerce and trade-related agencies, filling in details for the first time on an idea he suggested nearly a year ago in his State of the Union address.

"American businesses face challenges enough in a struggling economy. Unfortunately, many of the commerce and trade programs that were established to promote American enterprise are actually stifling it because of the complexity of multiple government bureaucracies," said Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI). "It's not often that we see real proposals from this administration to make government smaller. And we know commerce and trade are not the only areas of the federal government in need of serious streamlining. I look forward to reviewing the proposal, and hope that it will be the first of many to unravel the red tape and create a smaller, more efficient federal government."

"This is an interesting proposal and merits serious review, but it must not be "˜window dressing' and a consolidation in name only. It must also include meaningful and comprehensive regulatory reform. We need to strip off the books all outdated, senseless and job-killing rules and regulations which hurt American workers and businesses and have helped to keep unemployment at unacceptably high levels," said Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade Subcommittee Chairman Mary Bono Mack (R-CA).

"I look forward to working with Chairman Upton and my subcommittee to develop a smart, bipartisan plan which will create American jobs and allow U.S. businesses to successfully compete in a rapidly changing global economy," Bono Mack continued. "My first step is having Secretary Bryson come before our subcommittee to discuss ways to best root out bureaucratic waste and inefficiency."

The Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade Subcommittee held a hearing last year on "Made in America: Increasing Jobs through Exports and Trade" to examine barriers to commerce and trade, including how multiple government initiatives support or impede U.S. manufacturing, trade, and economic development. A report issued last year by the U.S. Government Accountability Office underscored the need for significant program elimination and consolidation to create an efficient, effective system for economic development.

"Preliminary results of GAO's ongoing work involving 80 economic development programs at four agencies -Commerce, HUD, SBA, and USDA -indicate that the design of each of these fragmented programs appears to overlap with that of at least one other program the four agencies administer a total of 52 programs that can fund "˜entrepreneurial efforts,' which includes helping businesses to develop business plans and identify funding sources," noted the GAO report.

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